Pharmapolitics in Russia

Making Drugs and Rebuilding the Nation

By Olga Zvonareva

Subjects: Russian Studies, Public Policy, Sociology
Series: SUNY series in National Identities
Paperback : 9781438479927, 216 pages, July 2021
Hardcover : 9781438479910, 216 pages, September 2020

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Table of contents


Introduction: Drug Development and Politics

1. The Soviet Pharmapolitical Regime: Promising Social Justice

2. Neoliberal Experiments in the Post-Soviet State: Producing an Alternative Vision of Society

3. The Arrival of Commercial Clinical Trials in Russia: Generating Multiple Value

4. Pharma-2020 Policy: Defining the Problems of the Russian Pharmaceutical Industry

5. Innovation Environment: Collaborating in Drug Development and Production

6. Pharmapolitics in Russia and Beyond


Documents the surprising role pharmaceutical science and technology has played in Russia’s search for national identity over a century of political turbulence.


Over the last one hundred years, the Russian pharmaceutical industry has undergone multiple dramatic transformations, which have taken place alongside tectonic political shifts in society associated with the rise and fall of the Soviet Union and the emergence of a post-Soviet order. Pharmapolitics in Russia argues that different versions of the Russian pharmaceutical industry took shape in a co-productive process, equally involving political ideologies and agendas, and technoscientific developments and constraints. Drawing on interviews, documents, literature, and media sources, Olga Zvonareva examines critical points in the history of the pharmaceutical industry in Russia. This includes the emergence of Soviet drug research and development, the short-lived neoliberal turn of the 1990s, and the ongoing efforts of the Russian government to boost local pharmaceutical innovation, which in turn produced a now widely shared vision of an independent and self-sufficient nation. The resulting industrial organizations and practices, she argues, came to embed and transmit particular imaginaries of the nation and its future.

Olga Zvonareva is Assistant Professor of Health, Ethics, and Society at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, as well as an Associate Professor at National Research Tomsk State University and Siberian State Medical University in Russia. She is the coeditor (with Evgeniya Popova and Klasien Horstman) of Health, Technologies, and Politics in Post-Soviet Settings: Navigating Uncertainties.


"…a remarkable contribution to the burgeoning academic literature on the socio-political aspects of medicine and the pharmaceutical industry in Russia … Pharmapolitics in Russia is a timely and thought-provoking book and is enthusiastically recommended to all scholars and students of Russian politics and society." — Europe-Asia Studies

"This book gives an account of Russian pharma without falling into the time-worn trap of arguing for Russian exceptionalism, whether by demonizing or romanticizing the Soviet period, or by relying on tropes of Russia's relationship to 'the West,' its 'development,' or 'backwardness.' Instead, Zvonareva traces how these tropes, and their deployment by various social actors, become part of the broader assemblage of contemporary Russian pharma." — Eugene Raikhel, author of Governing Habits: Treating Alcoholism in the Post-Soviet Clinic